Tue, Apr 10, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US official says Kim ready to talk nuclear weapons

AP, WASHINGTON

North Korea’s government has communicated with the US to say that its leader Kim Jong-un is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program with US President Donald Trump, US officials said on Sunday, increasing the likelihood that the unprecedented summit will actually occur.

The confirmation from Pyongyang directly, rather than from third countries like South Korea, has created more confidence within Trump’s administration about the wisdom of holding such a meeting as US officials make secretive preparations.

The Trump administration has long said that if the North Koreans were not ready to discuss giving up their nuclear program, there was no reason for the two countries to hold negotiations.

Trump took his own administration and other countries by surprise last month when he accepted an unusual offer from Kim to hold a meeting.

The North had conveyed the invitation to a visiting delegation from South Korea, which in turn traveled to Washington and relayed the message to Trump.

Trump said yes to the meeting on the spot, even though the US had not yet heard directly from North Korea about Kim’s intentions.

The US later heard from other countries, including China, where Kim paid a rare visit, that the North was serious about the offer.

North Korea’s government has not said anything publicly at all about a meeting with Trump, and the lack of known contact between Pyongyang and Washington about the meeting has fueled further speculation about the seriousness of Kim’s offer.

A US administration official on Sunday said that the US had “confirmed that Kim Jong-un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

A second official said that confirmation had come through direct contact between US and North Korean officials.

Neither of the officials would say when or how the contact took place, nor in what location. The officials were not authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

Former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson had said there were at least two or three channels through which US and North Korean officials communicate from time to time.

The Trump administration has not said where the meeting will take place or whether a location has been determined, nor has an exact date been set.

Initially, the White House said it expected the meeting to take place by the end of next month. It is not clear whether a date that early could be achieved or whether it might be delayed.

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